When it comes to beautiful things, it's better to look and not touch than to not look at all, right? That's the thinking behind this guide to the host of classy vintage furniture shops in North Miami known in some circles as "20th Century Row." Previously, we brought you Part I of our North Miami Vintage Guide: the "affordable finds" at the shops near Biscayne on 123rd Street.
Now we'll guide you through their upscale siblings: the vintage boutiques between Northeast 7th and 9th Avenues on 125th Street in North Miami. The prices are higher, the designers better known, and the showrooms Feng Shui-friendlier, attracting clients from far and wide and attention from big name celebrities and design magazines.
Browsing this shop, admittedly our favorite, is akin to stumbling into the joint prop storeroom for A Clockwork Orange and Pee Wee's Big Adventure. That's not to marginalize the artistic importance of the pieces, but rather to give an idea of just how "artistic" these antiques are. Many pieces are fantastically surreal, yet functional. Others, like a giant black foot, appear less functional but certainly fascinating. Owner Tina Hunsinger pointed out some of her favorite items, including an 11-foot goatskin table by German-born, French-educated designer Karl Springer, recently reduced to $4,600. Also represented are design company Rougier and Overtown artist Purvis Young.
Mostly Modern, Inc., 849 NE 125th St., 305-891-5551
Price Range: $60 to $9,000
Eras Represented: '50s-70s
Friendliness Factor: 5/5
Samuel Camhe, owner of Mostly Modern, Inc., cheerily informed us that although some of his acquisitions carry a heftier price tag, like the $8,500 coffee table by American designer Paul Evans, shown above, smaller yet still unique pieces are more affordable. Some bright vintage Danish vases, for example, cost $60 each. He says his furnishings are of approximately 80 percent American origin, 20 percent Danish modern. Camhe and his pup were both very welcoming and seemed eager to answer any questions we had, although Camhe's answers proved more helpful than the canine's did.
Past clients of this elite collector include Paris Hilton and Oprah Winfrey. In the shop, which has the feel of a museum rather than a store, are lots of light fixtures and paintings along with the historically important designer furniture.
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Joseph Anfuso began his career in antiques as a little boy, when he would sit in the dirt by a mountainside and dig, hoping to unearth old bottles and cans. He started a collection of these '20s vintage containers way back when. "I loved it," he says, which explains why decades later he's still very much in the biz. The pieces in his gallery are all of sleek and modern design. Among our favorites was a funky mirror with a worn finish and a swirly brass frame, $1,200.
Owner Susan Cutler says that all her antique furniture is reupholstered or redone so that all her pieces are in exquisite condition by the time they hit the showroom floor. She tries to make sure her European and American objects are items that no one else has. "I carry pieces that have not only an intrinsic value, but a value to the eye and to the heart," she says. Unfortunately, Cutler's tone took a turn for the snooty as our conversation went on. She implied that New Times readers wouldn't be able to afford her shop, and proceeded to give us a pretty cold shoulder. Not a great way to do business, in our opinion.
There are several more shops on "20th Century Row" that were closed during our visit. If you make a pilgrimage and see something you like through a closed shop window, you will generally find a phone number on the glass through which you can schedule an appointment. The hours on these shops tend to be somewhat limited, so it's a good idea to call ahead before planning your antique tour. Happy hunting!